Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

BREAKING NEWS: Hearing Examiner Denies PARD's Appeal Once Again

I have obtained a copy of the Hearing Examiner's Revised Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law conncering the Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter project. Te full decision can be found here.

It is much longer than the previous version. A bunch of ridiculous, irrelevent, and unsupported crap was added at PARD's insistence about economic impacts, wages, blight, and crime.

Nevertheless, here are some highlights from the decision:

  • Generally government may not micro-manage every aspect of every development and particularly those which are considered to be unpopular. Government does not have the time, the resources, or the ability to regulate every aspect of every development project, nor to enforce the same. Nor should government take regulatory control of all aspects of any development for which it does not have a significant interest in protection from existing regulations, the general health, welfare and safety, or the result of environmental regulations. For Wal-Mart, as a property owner possessing the necessary zoning classification to be micro-managed to the extent sought by the appellant would be considered blatantly offensive by any citizen of Pullman seeking to develop their own property. Only existing laws and regulation may be lawfully imposed. To that extent, Wal-Mart is a citizen of the City of Pullman, having certain rights relative to its property and those rights already existent under the laws applicable to the development.

  • Although not required to do so, the applicant submitted an economic impact analysis and offered expert testimony at the hearing that showed the proposed Project would not have a negative impact on the City of Pullman, would not cause urban blight, and would generate large tax revenues. PARD was unable to submit any evidence into the record showing that the proposed Project would likely have negative economic consequences on the City of Pullman. Although it submitted several studies of Wal-Mart’s impacts on other communities, the applicant’s expert properly concluded that these studies were not relevant in the City of Pullman and that these impacts could not be expected to occur.

  • PARD was unable to otherwise show that the fiscal impact analysis completed by the City was not considered in its site plan approval process.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with Chapter 3, page 20 of the Comprehensive Plan, which indicates that Moscow has captured the bulk of retail trade in the Palouse region, and that Pullman desires a better balance of shopping and entertainment opportunities. The proposed Project would bring desired retail to the City of Pullman and help balance the retail trade currently existing in Moscow, Idaho.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with Chapter 4, page 36 of the Comprehensive Plan which states that Pullman residents should be able to purchase products within the community, that the downtown is recognized as the heart of the community, and that commercial facilities outside of downtown should be clustered in convenient locations. The proposed Project would ensure that Pullman is self-sufficient in its retail needs and would prevent shoppers from shopping in Moscow. The economic impact analysis completed by the applicant concluded that the downtown will continue to be vibrant. The fiscal impact analysis completed by the City concluded that there would not be a negative fiscal impact on the City of Pullman. The proposed Project is located along Bishop Boulevard, which is identified as an area of commercial development elsewhere in the Comprehensive Plan.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with Chapter 5, page 45 of the Comprehensive Plan which states that not all commercial activity will occur downtown, but some will occur along Bishop and Professional Mall Boulevards. It also states that commercial development should compliment, not compete with, downtown businesses. This section also states that new commercial development should promote alternative modes of transportation and include attractive pedestrian accesses. The proposed Project complies with this section of the Comprehensive Plan.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with several goals and policies in the Comprehensive Plan regarding commercial and economic development, including Goal LU5 and Policies LU5.1, 5.2, 5.3, and 5.8. Although the proposed Project is not located in the downtown business district, substantial evidence shows that it will not have a significant adverse impact on downtown.

  • The proposed Project would be consistent with Goal LU6 which states that the City should enlarge the economic base of the community by encouraging non-polluting businesses that provide high-wage jobs. The economic impact study submitted by the applicant showed that wages paid by Wal-Mart would not be lower than average.

  • PARD’s allegations that the scope of the TIA erroneously did not contain certain driveways and intersections is not supported by sufficient evidence; PARD did not enter into the record any evidence showing that vehicular circulation would be negatively affected at the driveway and intersection locations.

  • PARD’s allegations that impacts relating to trucks and truck turning radii would cause a significant impact to traffic is not supported by sufficient evidence.

  • The mitigation requirements that will be constructed as a part of the proposed Project will properly mitigate traffic impacts attributable to the proposed Project.

  • No credible evidence exists to suggest that urban blight will result from approval of the proposal under SEPA. The mere suggestion of such does not establish a significant environmental concern requiring preparation of a Final Impact Analysis under SEPA or a fiscal impact analysis.

  • Wal-Mart has mitigated impacts of its proposal on the Pullman Cemetery. In the event that human remains are disturbed, the Applicant’s construction effort will be abated in that area for a governmental determination of a course of action.

  • As mitigated the proposal does not result in a significant environmental impact requiring the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement and the DNS is approved.

  • Now, all that remains is for Judge Frazier to uphold this decision at the hearing on October 18.

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    April E. Coggins said...

    Is that light I see at the end of the tunnel?

    Tom Forbes said...

    I see it too, April. Why, I think that's the Moonbat Express, here to take Reed and Company out of our misery.

    Scotty said...

    I can't wait to see Pullman get a change to start to get developed! I want to see houses. Lots of houses... I want to buy a house right now and I cannot afford one that doesn't need to be raized and rebuilt...

    Paul E. Zimmerman said...

    Finally! Real progress! CHARGE!